Woman tells of partner’s experience as child in Lissue House

The partner of a man who spent time as a child in Lissue Hospital in Lisburn has said he still suffers as a result of his time there.

The woman, who did not want to give her name, told BBC Radio Ulster’s Talkback programme that her partner spent two to three years there.

“He was taken off his parents at the age of about four and was put into this care home/hospital,” she said.

“His experiences basically were he was getting beat up daily by this staff member and he was nearly hung by some of the patients.

“Other things that happened to him were that he was constantly being drugged up so if his parents were to come in, he wouldn’t know his parents.

“It was basically so he couldn’t say anything to his parents to let them know what was happening.”

Although he was still young when he left, the experience has stayed with him.

“He can remember it so vividly and whenever he first heard it mentioned this morning on Radio Ulster, he actually burst into tears and I’ve never seen my partner crying so severely,” she said.

“He was sobbing his heart out.

“I was aware of part of it but he kind of had blocked a lot of it away and I think he is scared to open up now in case he can’t handle what all comes out.”

He was transferred to another home after three years but his partner said the effects of his time there had stayed with him into his adult life.

“He finds it very difficult to communicate with other people,” she said.

“For instance, he was in his mid-30s before he had his first girlfriend.

“He just wanted to lock himself away in his own house. When he is depressed, he just stays in bed, he didn’t want to deal with life.”

She said her partner had never received any support or treatment.

“He hasn’t had any form of help,” she said.

“After the state he was in earlier on Thursday, I definitely think some sort of support would be required.

“It is horrendous, he was just saying to me that the worst thing that he found was being thrown into a locked dark room with no water or food for three to four days at a time.

“That’s hard to deal with as a child.”

The Irish News revealed details on Wednesday about a report into abuse at Lissue Hospital and Forster Green in Belfast in the 1980s and 90s.

The paper found that a 2009 review into the abuse allegations was never published.

Three allegations were made against members of staff over claims that girls aged between eight and 13 were abused.

It was compiled by independent health consultant Bob Stinson and completed in January 2009.

It said that two of the allegations of abuse were referred to police but a third was not because it was made some years after the alleged incident took place and, in the view of the report’s author, was not corroborated.

The report also detailed concerns about children being asked to undress in front of staff.

In 14 cases, children were alleged to have sexually abused other children while staff also allegedly used humiliation to discipline children.

The 11 such cases of humiliation in the report were described by Mr Stinson as “one of the most disturbing elements of the review”.

The review was instigated by the Belfast Trust and the Eastern Health Board after one former patient made a complaint to police.